Recent changes

Foreign citizens who plan to work in the retail trade, public services or housing and utilities must prove their knowledge of the Russian language.

Failure to file documents confirming a knowledge of Russian will be a reason to refuse a work permit.

These changes were introduced by Federal Law No. 185-FZ of November 12, 2012 “Amendments to Article 13.1 of the Federal Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens” (hereinafter the “Law”), which establishes that it is necessary for foreign citizens who enter Russia under a visa-free regime to prove their knowledge of the Russian language to obtain a work permit.

The change comes into force from December 1, 2012 and applies to persons signing new employment agreements.

Provisions of the Law

The Law provides that foreign citizens who enter Russia under a visa-free regime and will work in the retail trade, public services and also housing and utilities must know Russian to a level not below basic.

The required level of knowledge of Russian must be confirmed by one of the following documents:

  • a certificate on passing the state test on Russian as a foreign language;
  • a document confirming education (at least a basic general education), if this document contains information about learning Russian and is issued by a foreign state and recognized by the Russian Federation and has a notarized Russian translation:
  • a state-recognized qualification (at least a basic general education) issued before September 1, 1991 by an educational institution in a state that was in the USSR or issued by an educational institution in Russia after September 1, 1991.

Confirmation of knowledge of the Russian language is not required for citizens of states where Russian is an official state language (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, etc.).

The indicated documents should be filed as hard copies and cannot be filed electronically.

Recommendations

We recommend our clients

  • to check whether they are engaged in the following spheres of activity according to the constitutive documents or information letters of Rosstat:
    • housing, utilities and public services (OKVED code group 93),
    • retail trade (OKVED code group 52)
    • other similar activities.
  • if a company’s activities match one of the above groups and the company plans to engage foreign employees from visa-free countries (except countries where Russian is an official language), it is necessary to request documentary proof of the employees' knowledge of the Russian language.